Yes, I finally finished two projects: making the Eastern Jewels crochet blanket and gestating my third child! Lauren was born on the 6th May and is a gorgeous, sweet-tempered and healthy baby. Not gonna lie, it was my toughest labour yet as she’d swivelled into a back-to-back position at the last minute without anyone realising, and I had to be induced with only gas and air as a painkiller. In the end the consultant had to tug her out with a ventouse cup. But look, what a cutie!
Anyway, difficult labour aside, she’s here now and that’s what’s important. And so is her blanket! You can read the details of that make over on the Minerva Blogger Network here.
I used the Stylecraft Eastern Jewels Blanket Pack (affiliate link), and I can thoroughly recommend this pattern even for relative beginners to crochet. It looks incredibly complex, but is actually based on a very small number of simple stitches so if you’ve made a granny square, you can make this! It just takes a long time, but you’ll have mad crochet skills by the time you’ve finished! Hop on over to the Minerva post for all the deets.
I’m going to be back tomorrow with my write up of the 10×10 wardrobe challenge I did back in April, and then again in a few days with my monthly update post. And probably a Me Made May post too. I have so many ideas, and so little time to bring them to fruition!
This is now my third time making up the Maternity Agnes pattern from Tilly and the Buttons, but it’s my first time making it as a top. You can find my previous dress versions here and here. The photos were taken back in early March, but this still fits perfectly over my huge “almost there” bump.
I feel like I’ve already said much of what I want to say about this pattern already in those two posts, but there was one thing I did a bit differently this time around. I’d noticed a drag line between the armscye and bust in my last two versions, but wasn’t sure what to do about it other than some kind of complex full bust adjustment, which I didn’t really feel like figuring out as I have never had to do an FBA before!
But after reading a post on the regular Agnes top by Sew Becky Jo, I realised that the problem might actually be with the large armscye, as a lot of people seem to have the same issue with the Agnes top (whether they’ve noticed or not).
I thought back to my TNT fitted knit top, the Knit Sweetheart Top from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, and looked at pictures to confirm I didn’t get that crease/fold with Gertie’s pattern. Then I compared the two paper patterns and sure enough, the armscye on Gertie’s pattern is significantly higher and smaller. It’s not the easiest thing to spot seams in this fabric, but you might be able to see how high the underarm seam is below.
So this time instead of just hacking on the neckline from the Knit Sweetheart Top, I went for the whole upper portion of that pattern including the sleeves. I think this has worked as I now have a much better fit both in the armpit and the bust. I didn’t actually bother with retracing a pattern as I figured this is the last time I’m likely to make the maternity version, so I simply cut the fabric for the Gertie bodice down to just below the bust, then laid the Agnes pattern over the top and carried on cutting with that version. There was probably a little blending/grading at the join, but it’s been such a time since I made this I can’t remember which pattern was the larger!
The only other thing that made this more of a challenging make for me was the fabric I used. Now don’t get me wrong–I adore this fabric and it’s incredibly soft and comfortable to wear… But (you sensed there was one coming, didn’t you?!) it’s not the easiest to sew. I picked it up from the Girl Charlee stall at the Great British Sewing Bee Live last year, as I’ve been wanting to work more bold florals into my wardrobe. The colours really appeal, although yellow isn’t something that suits my skin tone at all. However, this minimal amount of yellow mixed in with the black and turquoise really works, I reckon.
So, the fabric looks and feels gorgeous, but boy, it does not want to co-operate on the cutting table or under the machine. It’s a rayon/spandex/cotton blend with significant 4 way stretch. The drapey rayon combined with all that lycra made it shift about like crazy. I had to cut on the single layer with my rotary cutter (which I usually do with knits anyway), and put tissue underneath while sewing seams or the lightweight fabric got sucked down into the machine. I also had to use lightweight stretch interfacing strips on the neckline band and the hems to stabilise them.
I’m just glad I’ve had plenty of experience sewing viscose and stretch knits, but if you haven’t I wouldn’t recommend this fabric. Not unless you’re a bit of a sewing masochist and want to stretch your skills, that is! That said, it is beautiful to wear and I’m really glad I went for it. Often the fabrics I love wearing are the biggest bastards to sew.
I’m really happy with the finished top and have worn it loads. Originally I thought I might hack it down to shorter sleeves once the warm spring weather hit, but we’ve had such a cold spring I’ve needed that sleeve length! At first I thought I’d only be able to wear it with my plainer bottoms, like a denim skirt, jeans and a black pencil skirt. But then I remembered a fabric I love with a floral on a b&w polka dot background, and figured why not try it with my polka dot maternity skirt? I’m so glad I did as I love the combination, and it’s given me more confidence with print mixing, which can only be a good thing.
One of the things I really like about this top is the generous length. It fits nice and snug under the bump, which means there’s no risk of those awful top bands on my maternity jeans and denim skirt peeking out from underneath. It also covers up the maternity support belt I’ve been wearing while walking for this last month. I didn’t go for the optional ruching cords included in the Agnes instructions as I figured this fabric was probably too lightweight and tricky to make them work, but it turns out they haven’t been necessary in a fabric with excellent recovery like this one.
This is one of those maternity makes I love so much I’m planning on refashioning so it has life after pregnancy. It should be simple enough to let out the side seams, remove the ruching and the extra length on the front, and then redo the seams and hem. I didn’t do my usual neckline treatment with the pleats to turn it into a sweetheart neckline as I thought there was probably enough going on with this fabric as it was, but I might consider adding those for life after maternity. We will see…
Time to sew: 1 hour 37 mins (this doesn’t include pattern tracing, cutting out, threading up machine, trying on for fit purposes, and general waffling!)
Pattern: £2.38 (originally £7.13 in Black Friday sale, but used three times)
Fabric: £12 for 1.5m (special GBSB Live discount price)
What do you reckon: would you mix florals and polka dots like this?
Disclaimer: some of the products linked above use affiliate links, meaning if you follow the link and make a purchase I will receive a small referral fee (at no added cost to you). Any extra income to help fund my sewing habit is greatly appreciated, but rest assured I only recommend products I love and think you might find useful too 🙂
Ah April, you’ve been a funny month. We had a surprise scorching hot weekend, but then it went straight back to cold, windy and rainy. Very disappointing spring this year, it must be said. On the plus side, since I can’t really sunbathe at the moment anyway (can’t lie on my front or my back!) or do much gardening (bending over hurts!) I suppose I haven’t missed much. At least I’ve had plenty of time inside to get on with sewing and crocheting.
I also took part in the #spring10x10 wardrobe challenge over on Instagram, which I’ll be posting about here later this week, I hope. It was an interesting experience and definitely got me thinking about wardrobe gaps.
L-R: A Vogue Patterns V8759 shirt for Andy, and my crochet Persian Tiles Blanket
You’ve already seen the dressing gown, which took longer than I anticipated to make. Before that I spent a week or so working on cutting out and fitting Andy’s new shirt. It’s not finished by any stretch of the imagination (just the torso tacked together at the moment), but it hopefully will be very soon.
I’ve also spent plenty of time with my feet up, crocheting away at the Eastern Jewels colourway (affiliate link) of Janie Crowfoot’s Persian Tiles Blanket. It’s been such a fun project!
Money spent: £40.03
Patterns: £0 , Haberdashery: £40.03 , Fabric: £0
Yep, after a few months of spending next to nothing I decided to use some of my birthday/Christmas money to treat myself to a few bits and pieces to make my sewing life easier–especially for the projects I have coming up (shirtmaking!). From Jaycotts I bought:
One of those Simflex gauges for spacing buttonholes I’ve been coveting for ages.
A handy little hem gauge (I love this so much already! Do they make them in metric, I wonder?).
Another water erasable marking pen in white (my blue one doesn’t work on dark fabrics).
Some beeswax in a holder for treating thread for handsewing.
And some more Fray Check liquid because my last lot went cloudy and gloopy after many years of good service.
I also ordered a couple of things from eBay sellers: a loop turner (where have you been all my sewing life?!) and a small buttonhole chisel.
I’m really pleased with these purchases as they’re things I’ve wanted for a while, and I know they’ll all get used plenty over the next few months. Assuming I find any time to sew, that is!
May sewing plans:
I’m keeping my plans for May pretty minimal, as I know I’ll be having a baby at some point in the next eight days. If I can finish Andy’s shirt and the crochet blanket I’ll be a happy bunny. I think I might also cut another short-sleeved nursing top using the Megan Nielsen Amber pattern, as I have plenty of stashed jersey I could use. Whether I’d then get it sewn up is anyone’s guess…